On the surface, Terra Nova is a beautifully written follow-up to Dominion, the first book in the Molly Stout Adventures. It takes us back to the world of Terra Nova and plunges us into Molly’s life shortly after the events of Dominion. It’s fast-paced, filled with action, and a sheer pleasure to read. Terra Nova is a world where instead of building on the back of human slaves, denoted as less worthy by skin color or some other chosen arbitrary measurement, we harnessed the power of some more beings more obviously ‘other’. It gives us a steampunk world only a few steps removed from our own.
I zoomed through Terra Nova, reading it in a couple hours. From the very first page, Arbuthnott had me entranced and right back in the thick of it beside Molly. My stomach was churning, my emotions were roiling, and I was completely absorbed in this book. He is a fantastic writer, and I thoroughly enjoyed his story-telling abilities and the fictional aspects of his work.
But I want to talk about the other part of it, as well.
Terra Nova is a call for young people to realize their worth, their power. To understand that they have a voice, and if they use that voice, they can get things accomplished. It is a call to arms for a younger generation to lead others down the right path, to do what everyone else seems afraid to do. To not be a sheep.
"I wish we could just go flying together instead of always skulking around, Molly thought. But if that's what I want, I guess we have to make a world where that can happen."
But it's about more than that as well. It's about growing up. About realizing that while you need to own your mistakes or consequences, you need to recognize that some are not yours to make or take on.
It's a solid story, with great writing. Terra Nova makes me simultaneously want to stand up and applaud, whilst also making me squirm uncomfortably. Because this also spoke to me as an adult. Terra Nova reminded me that it is my job to guide my child, but it is not - nor will it ever be - my job to rule my child. If at some point in the future, she gets set on doing something she believes is the right thing, my job will be to keep her as safe as possible while she does it, not to stop her from doing it.
Sometimes a book comes along that rocks you back on your heels, smacks the self-pity, the selfishness, and ignorance out of you, and makes you ashamed of your own timidity. And sometimes that book happens to be a kids’ book.
Read Dominion, and then read Terra Nova. Read them for you. Read them for your kids. Read them to your kids. Let your kids read them and ask you questions. I don’t care how you do it, I’m just asking you to do it.
I have to say I really enjoyed this sequel to The Alchemists of Loom! It had everything I look for in a sequel, compelling character development and riveting plot progression. I liked the Alchemists of Loom, but I LOVED The Dragons of Nova.
I am so happy we got a better view of Nova in this one, and all the juicy dragonian politics that come along with it. I found Arianna's time there so engrossing, being completely surrounded by the dragons she despises, even (if rather reluctantly) working with them to bring down the biggest, baddest one of them all. Seeing Cvareh in his natural habitat was also a treat. I think that he was so out of his element in the first book that often he seemed to be floundering, but in Nova we got to see this other side to him, one where he is well respected and a real pillar of strength to his people.
As much as I liked Nova, I was also glad to continue Florence's journey with the rebels, and even more so her personal journey. It was nice to see her stepping out of Ari's shadow and really coming into her own. Florence had learned a lot of invaluable things from Ari, but watching her discover the world around her for herself and deciding on her own what is important to her and what to fight for.
That ending was EXPLOSIVE, and I am dying to know what is going to happen next. I honestly can't wait to get my hands on the next book!